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University seeks use for old bakery site

Williams' bakery near Bean and Hamilton complexes sits vacant but UO aims to use the site before building new basketball arena

By: Calvin Hall | News Reporter

Issue date: 10/4/06 Section: News
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The University is working to find a use for the former Williams' Bakery site next to campus and to mitigate the effects of a January fire that caused about $1 million damage to the building's interior.

The bakery on East 13th Avenue currently sits unused while the University works on plans to build a new basketball arena on the bakery site to replace the aging McArthur Court.

United States Bakery, the owner of Williams' Bakery, sold the seven-acre site to the University in February 2005 for about $22.2 million as part of the University's plan to acquire and develop property along Franklin Boulevard.

Price said the University is still trying to settle the financing, philanthropy and design necessary for the new arena. The University will tear down the old bakery once funding and construction are ready, he said.

"At this point, we don't have it all together to proceed," Price said. "It's taking more time than we thought, but we continue to be optimistic that it's the right site for the arena."

Williams' Bakery moved from the northeast corner of campus near Bean and Hamilton residence hall complexes to its new, 135,000-square-feet building in Springfield in May.

Jerry Boness, chief financial officer for United States Bakery, said the old bakery stopped producing products a few days after Labor Day when it officially completed its move to the new bakery. The bakery property will belong to the company until Dec. 31, when it will officially transfer to the University, he said.

Allan Price, vice president of University Advancement, said the University will work with the property owners to look at mitigation for the damage caused by a Jan. 9 night fire that spread through the building's ventilation system. He said the University is looking at possibilities for using the building for temporary usage, at least until the plans and funding for the new arena are designed.

"We're not looking to spend a lot of money on the site until, ultimately, we put the arena on the site," Price said.

The Williams' Bakery had operated on Franklin Boulevard since 1908, Boness said.

Bean Complex Director Michael Smith, who previously worked as director for Hamilton Complex, said he hadn't noticed the bakery's move.

But he said smells from the bakery used to drift to the eastern side of the building. He woke up every morning to "some sort of smell from the bakery," he said.

"It was a pretty cool experience to smell the bakery throughout the morning and the day," Smith said.

Contact the city, state politics reporter at chall@dailyemerald.com
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